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Wednesday, Feb 22nd

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First female Afghan air force pilot asks US for asylum

Dirst female Afghani pilot seeks asylum in USThree years ago, Niloofar Rahmani became the first woman to earn her wings in Afghanistan's air force. But her place in history as an international symbol of female empowerment and courage has effectively cost her the ability to live in her homeland.

Now, she's seeking asylum in the United States.

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Watership Down author Richard Adams dies aged 96

Watership Down author, diesThe author of Watership Down, Richard Adams, has died aged 96, his daughter has said.

The tear-jerking children's classic about a group of rabbits in search of a new home after the destruction of their warren was first published in 1972.  The tale, first told by Adams on a long car journey with his daughters, turned into a best-seller.

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Japanese prime minister arrives in Hawaii, lays wreath at Pearl Harbor

Japanese PM at Pearl HarborThe prime minister of Japan arrived in Hawaii for a two-day trip to visit memorials and and honor lives lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, a visit which was said to repay President Barack Obama for his visit to Hiroshima earlier this year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid a wreath Monday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and Tuesday is expected to become the first Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the main memorial of the massive attack.

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China Lodges Complaint Over Taiwan’s Place In U.S. Defense Bill

Obama signs defense billChina has lodged “stern representations” with the United States after President Barack Obama signed into law a U.S. defense policy bill that suggests a plan to conduct high-level military exchanges with self-ruled Taiwan.

Part of the $618.7 billion National Defense Authorization Act “expresses the sense of Congress that (the U.S. Department of Defense) should conduct a program of senior military exchanges between the United States and Taiwan”.

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Civilians killed by barrel bombs near Damascus: reports

Civilians killed near DamascusAt least 14 civilians have been killed and several others wounded in a series of barrel-bomb attacks on rebel-held areas near Damascus, Al Jazeera has learnt.

Syrian government air strikes targeted the town of Wadi Barada, northwest of the capital, on Monday, injuring dozens of people, including several children, activists told Al Jazeera.

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Russian military jet crashes with 92 onboard

Russian military plane crashesA Russian military plane with 92 people on board, including members of a famed army choir, has crashed into the Black Sea shortly after taking off, the Russian defence ministry has said.

There was no sign of survivors, the defence ministry said on Sunday, as President Vladimir Putin announced a national day of mourning.

The Tu-154 plane had departed from the southern Russian city of Adler on Sunday morning and was heading towards Latakia in Syria.

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Pope says Christmas 'hostage' to materialism, God in shadows

Pope says Christmans hostage to materialismPope Francis said on Saturday that Christmas had been "taken hostage" by dazzling materialism that puts God in the shadows and blinds many to the needs of the hungry, the migrants and the war weary.

Francis, leading the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics into Christmas for the fourth time since his election in 2013, said in his Christmas Eve homily that a world often obsessed with gifts, feasting and self-centeredness needed more humility.

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